Ideas on a decent late-model used car (cheap)

Discussion in 'Community' started by GanChan, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. GanChan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    By the end of the year I will want to buy my next car, as my '97 Escort is finally starting to wear out. I intend to pay cash, since I have enough debt in other areas without shouldering more. I will probably have only about 9K, but maybe I can push it to 10 if TT&L is included. (Maybe if I HAD to, I could do a loan for a slightly larger amount and use the cash toward loan payments, but...well hell, it's still debt.)

    I would like a car with less than 50,000 miles on it, auto trans, and AC.

    I think that kind of limits me to Accent, Elantra, Echo, etc, but I'd like your thoughts on this as well.
  2. 18thTomorrow macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2004
    The Alpha Quadrant
    How late-model are you looking?
    I'm no car person, but I love my 01 VW that I got for under 10k.
  3. kgarner macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
    Are you more interested in smaller cars or sedans or what? I just got a '02 Taurus with 41,500 miles for just under $10K (with TT&L). Nothing fancy, but it runs great and was actually in really good shape.
  4. stubeeef macrumors 68030


    Aug 10, 2004
    I would focus on honda or toyota. I have always (15yrs) bought'm with nearly 100,000 miles on em when no one else wants em. Then stick another 100k on it! Can talk owners down after they have been trying to sell it awhile too.
  5. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    get an old volvo 240. they run forever and are very easy to service yourself. esp if you get a diesel

    (yes, i know it's going to be older than what he's looking for, and with more miles most likely, but i still think it's worth considering)
  6. joecool85 macrumors 65816


    Mar 9, 2005
    For that kind of money you could get an 02 or 03 Ford Focus. Really nice cars for the money, and good on gas. Or, you could be like me and get a ZX2. Check mine out at if you want.

    Here is a front shot (doesn't do it justice)

    Another car to consider would be a Mazda Protege. Also good on gas and pretty sporty too.
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    You can probably get a 2000-2001 Mercury Grand Marquis with 50-60k for about 8k.

    Should be able to get about 20-23mpg in mixed driving, big, low insurance rates, and will probably require nothing more than oil changes, plug wires, and tranny flush (got a torq conv drain plug so it's cheap to do) -- through 200k miles.

    Only thing to check is to see if it has an aluminum coolant crossover on the intake manifold (the cast aluminum tube where alternator bolts to the manifold) -- avoid the all plastic intake, they will break..
  8. GanChan thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    Is the ZX2 basically an Escort? I did enjoy my Escort while it lasted, though a couple of recall issues came up and the starter kept crapping out on me....

    To clear up some other questions, I'd go as old as an '01 model. generally I'd like low-ish miles so I can stop buying a car every 3 to 4 years. A subcompact econobox is all the car I need, size-wise.
  9. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO

    Brand new, Accents start right around $10k. Add the options for auto and AC and you'll be a bit higher than 10k, but if you trade in the Escort and get a couple thousand, you could possibly be right around $10k for a new car.
  10. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    Stay the hell away from Focuses. They are practically lemons straight fromt he factories. Days after your warranty runs out, the rear window cables with bind and break. The paint cracks and chips easily, the stearing column is junk.

    In fact, stay away from any American car that's been made since the mid 70's.

    Japaense cares are honestly your ebst bet. They're easy to maintain, the engines run forever, and as long as you change the oil adn rotate your tires, do a tuune up every great now and again, it will alst youa very long time.
  11. Sutekidane macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2005
    Go for a new Hyundai Accent. The warranty is really good, and will cover nearly everything. They are terribly under-rated as reliable cars. My friend has a 1999 Elantra pushing 200k miles on it, and hasn't had any problems at all with it. You can read the reviews, if you want a new car on the cheap, the accent is really the best way to go.
  12. Toppa G's macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003
    The exurbs, MN
    If you can find a dealer that is willing to search for you on the dealer networks, you can get a good car for a great deal - my fiance just got an '01 Chrysler Sebring with leather, sunroof, alloy wheels, CD changer, A/C etc for about 10K...and it only had 28,000 miles on it - it's in great shape
  13. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Sep 24, 2002
    I'll second that. Get a new Accent. Don't deal with someone else's used BS!
  14. GanChan thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    I may have to go with an Elantra, if there's no option for cruise control on the Accent. (?) I just remembered that my driving foot is slightly gimpy, post-surgery, and so for long drives I'll need CC. Of course the Elantra is even nicer than the Accent, but I can't afford a new one without some extra financing (grrrr!)...

    Well, if I do have to buy used I can Carfax the repair history beforehand, and maybe get a new enough model that it still has some warranty on it.
  15. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO

    My sister got a new Elantra with cruise and auto for just under 13 grand, I think it ended up being around 12,900. But that was with the Hyundai owner loyalty rebate which was $500. So you won't get the rebate, but if you can get something decent for your trade in, then it will put you under the $13k mark. And if you got a manual tranny instead, you'd save even more. But if you had foot surgery, then having the clutch to deal with probably would be a bad thing
  16. AstrosFan macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2005
    I would definitely look at Consumer Reports ( to come up with some ideas of which cars are most reliable.
    If you look at their overall "Best Used Cars" list, it's almost entirely Japanese cars - in your price range, Honda & Toyota rule the list (as stubeeef pointed out above.
    There's also a link to cars by price range - in the $8K - $10K range, you could consider a relatively recent Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. It seems that they are perenially on the "Best Small Cars" lists.
    They also maintain their resale value fairly well, which should help you out down the road.

    Good luck!
  17. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    A Carfax report is spotty at best. Most vehicles will not show any repair history; only annual registrations.

    The way it works is that Carfax trades you free reports for data (any data) that they can add to a report. My company sells extended warranties so we supply that data in return for free reports. Very few dealers and repair shops trade data as they don't have the technical know how/capability/desire to do so. For many, it's not worth the effort.
  18. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    South Dakota, USA
    Again, another person biased and feels he or she MUST bash anything built by a United States company. The goal of people who do this is to see the excitement of everyone when GM or Ford fails. They have some sick feeling of excitement when thousands of people are put out of work.

    Look someone has to buy American cars. I have always bought them and the models built in the last few years are good cars. The new Ford Focus is a good small car and so is the new Chevy Cobalt. The new Ford Fusion that will be in dealers lots in September will give the Accord a run for it's money. Sure it's based on the Mazda 6, but there's nothing wrong with that. In fact the 2 most underrated Japanese cars built are the Mazda 6 and ESPECIALLY the Mazda 3! Any car that is properly maintained should be reliable if not abused.

    Sure, there is a lemon that comes down once in awhile. Japanese cars are guilty of this as well no matter what you try to say. Have you ever followed behind any vehicle that ever had a 3.0 Mitsubishi V6 engine in it? SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE...every engine turned into an oil burner. Toyota has had all kinds of problems with oil sludge in their engines. Nissan had so many problems with fire under the hood of their mini-van in the 1980's and early 90's that they ended up recalling the entire van!!! There are many more cases of this. It is just that everyone has became negative towards anything built by GM or Ford in wishing that someone would force a buyout so we have less products and hopefully only Asian products to choose from.

    You can laugh all you want but I would put a Ford Crown Victoria up against any Japanese car made if you wanted to do a study on which would last the longest under extreme heavy duty conditions. Why do you think the Crown Victoria is the favorite car of police departments? highway patrols? and taxi services? Honestly I would love to see an Accord or Camry put through the same use and abuse and see how they come out of it. I can see one "hitting the median" at 50 MPH right now. Not pretty.

    I don't mean this post to be rude and it is not directed at only you, it is just directed at people who bash US made products. If you don't like American cars you don't have to buy them, but why discourage everyone else? I just bought a 2005 Ford along with my brother and my Dad. I got an Explorer, my brother got a Mercury Mariner, and Dad got a small Ranger pickup. I find no issues at all with quality. The fit and finish is beautiful. They are very solid vehicles.

    You can get a GREAT deal on products from Ford and GM right now with the Family Plan and Employee Discount still in effect. I would say quality wise all GM and Ford's offerings are as good as the Korean offerings and probably have a bit better fit and finish in some areas. There is no real good reason to avoid a US car in 2005. They are not building Citations, Pintos, Vegas, and Aspens anymore. If that's what you think they still build you need to get out and take one for a drive. My only advice to Detroit other then to keep offering great prices is to extend their "bumper-to-bumper warranty to a minimum of 5 years or 100,000 miles. This would get rid of any perception of poor quality.

    Last, a new 2005 3 door Focus with the Family Plan comes in around $11,000 and a 4 door looks to be just over $12,000. I know that is more then you would like to spend, but not much more for a brand new car. That is the bottom price. What you see, is what you pay, no games. They also have a standard 3/36,000 bumper to bumper warranty and a 5 year or 100,000 mile Powertrain warranty included at that price.

    ( you can see by my avatar I am NOT anti-japanese either...Yamaha builds great products and I own a Yamaha snowmobile and an ATV, but you don't see me on here bashing Harley or Polaris.)
  19. sprstu macrumors member


    Apr 27, 2005
    white bear lake, mn
    I love my focus zx3, I also love to death my tdi golf. Both are great in all weather and are nice on gas. The TDI (diesel) golf gets around 45 mpg all the time, and my focus gets 30mpg all the time. What the focus losses in gas it makes up for in speed and visa versa. Plenty of people and stuff room, great handling and fantastic to drive daily.
    A civic with and Auto trans is going to be the worst thing for you, the engines are just too small. If you were going asian a toyota is the way to go. Dont get me wrong, civics are some of the best cars money can buy, but so are carollas, and at the end of the world the 1985 toyota will still be rolling down the street.

    (in no special order)
    all will be decent price, will drive as long as you want them too and will get you there while sipping gas.
  20. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    Honda and Toyota make great cars, but they are boring as heck (mainly the styling. I actually don't mind the interiors of the news Accords)... I'd never be caught driving one that's for sure.

    I'd suggest a nice, comfy, full-size American model such as a Chrysler 300M or Dodge Intrepid. If you'd like something smaller, the Nissan Altima, Subaru Impreza, or VW Passat are good cars.

    For a sporty small car, the Scion tC is a low-priced yet full featured choice. Then of course you have the funky cars such as the Mini Cooper, Bug, or PT Cruiser - all solid cars that still draw looks.
  21. joecool85 macrumors 65816


    Mar 9, 2005
    Yeah, originally in 98 when it was released it was the Escort ZX2, in 2001 the escort part was dropped and it's just the zx2. It is basically the same chassis with a different style body and a better motor. You should have no problem finding an 01-02 zx2 for around 6-7k and they are actually really reliable cars.

    And btw, don't listen to that guy talking about the Focus, I know 4 people that are friends of mine with Focuses, and none of them have had ANY problems, and one of them has had the car for 3 years...
  22. cr2sh macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2002
    The way I see it... you have to hedge your bets. You need a car that you KNOW is going to run for a long time. You're not rich now and there's no indication you'll be wealthy in the next 5 years... I'm guessing.

    Buy a Honda or a Toyota.

    If you're seriously considering anything else your priorities are in the wrong place. You have to realize... these cars will run for 200,000 miles.

    Buy a $5000, 1995 Camry/Accord with 90,000 miles on it. Get it inspected by a dealer first and then be assured it'll go for another 100,000 miles.

    Take the rest of your cash and start paying off your debt.

    If you take out another loan... you're a fool.
  23. EJBasile macrumors 65816


    Apr 20, 2004
    Definatly Honda, Nissan, or Toyota.

    They really do have the best quality and reliability. I know a lot of people that own them and they love them and will now only buy them.

    Japanese Cars: Good reliability, fit and finish, fairly cheap to fix

    American Cars: Usually good reliabilty, horrible fit an finish, cheap to fix, don't last as long as jap. cars

    European Cars:
    VW: Decent reliabilty, good fit and finsih, cost more to fix
    Volvo: Good reliability, good fit and finish, cost a lot to fix
    Get a used taurus (you can get a late model, with low miles, for cheap) or a civic, corolla, accord, or camery, but the taurus won't probably last as long.
  24. Henri Gaudier macrumors 6502a

    Henri Gaudier

    May 4, 2005
    Volvo Volvo Volvo

    You cannot get better than buying a Volvo. They are wonderful cars that don't hold their values and as such are quite affordable when they have a little age. I have a 15 year old Volvo 740 Estate and it's done 200,000 miles without once letting me down. She even went from Budapest to London in 19 hours doing a 170 kph or 100 mph plus for hour after hour and arrived in better shape than me!!!!! It is a Viking longboat after all.
  25. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    I love people who bash American car's fit and finish... Have you really taken a look at some of the newer models? That really aren't has terrible as you make it sound.

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